Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Musings: Discouraging - And Not

It was so quiet— even the roosters were strangely subdued — that I could hear the ocean crashing on the reef, miles away and some 800 feet below, when Koko and I went out walking this morning. Though sunrise wasn’t far away — in clock time, anyway — our way was lit by Venus and a white moon on the fat side of half.

Rain clouds stretched like black spider webs across the eastern sky, waiting to capture the dawn, but that didn’t discourage the birds, which woke and added their vibrant songs to the crickets’ rich symphony.

While lengthy court proceedings often serve to discourage citizens who don’t have the same deep pockets as wealthy landowners, North Shore residents Caren Diamond and Beau Blair, aided by the pro bono services of attorney Harold Bronstein, refused to give up in a landmark shoreline dispute that dates all the way back to 2005 and finally saw some resolution this month.

I wrote about the case last year for Honolulu Weekly:.

A decision by Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe has invalidated the state’s current approach to determining the public shoreline.

In an order signed April 6, Watanabe found the state had improperly relied upon cultivated vegetation and current, rather than historical, wave wash data when setting the shoreline for a North Shore Kauai lot now owned by Craig Dobbin.

The decision stemmed from a long-standing dispute over the Wainiha lot’s certified shoreline, which is used to determine how far a house will be set back from the beach.

In signing the order, Watanabe struck down a certification based on a shoreline boundary that the state itself had rejected five years ago.

Watanabe further affirmed that intentionally cultivating vegetation for the purpose of creating an artificial line undermines the intent of state law, which is to give the public as much use of the beach as is reasonably possible.

The judge’s decision also undermines the state’s standard practice of using a “single-year snapshot,” or current conditions only, to set the shoreline. Watanabe found that interpretation of the law to be “arbitrary, capricious and/or characterized by an abuse of discretion” because it “conflicts with and/or contradicts the purpose and intent” of the state shoreline statute.

“The judge said, in effect, your decision is wrong and you have to go back and do it the right way,” Bronstein said. “She’s also saying, interpret the law correctly.”

But as I noted on this blog last May, the state — or more specifically, former DLNR head Laura Thielen — went ahead and again certified the exact same shoreline that Watanabe had overturned.

So Harold went back to court and in a Decision and Order filed on Feb. 16, 2011, Watanabe not only vacated that certified shoreline, she went ahead and set the new one herself, some 20 feet mauka.

Aurai Kathleen! Way to go, grrrrl!

Still, it’s pretty discouraging to think the state is playing those kinds of games with the public shoreline, not to mention taxpayer dollars.

And even more discouraging to think of where we’d be without those rare, civic-minded attorneys like Harold.

So I’ll offer this little note of encouragement to land use attorneys Max Graham and Walton Hong: it’s never too late to come into the light.

And finally, while certain county officials are up in arms over the prospect of — gasp! —making it a bit easier for persons with prescriptions to obtain marijuana, it turns out that the big pharmaceutical companies — surprise! — are the real scourge. As The New York Times reported:

For decades, antipsychotic drugs were a niche product. Today, they’re the top-selling class of pharmaceuticals in America, generating annual revenue of about $14.6 billion and surpassing sales of even blockbusters like heart-protective statins.

Today, more than a half-million youths take antipsychotic drugs, and fully one-quarter of nursing-home residents have used them.

The industry continues to market antipsychotics aggressively, leading analysts to question how drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for about 1 percent of the population have become the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest sellers — despite recent crackdowns.

Some say the answer to that question isn’t complicated.

“It’s the money,” says Dr. Jerome L. Avorn, a Harvard medical professor and researcher. “When you’re selling $1 billion a year or more of a drug, it’s very tempting for a company to just ignore the traffic ticket and keep speeding.”

Every major company selling the drugs — Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — has either settled recent government cases for hundreds of millions of dollars or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud.

It's kind of discouraging to think our elected officials, and zealots from the CA's office like Justin Kollar, are wasting their time and our money fighting marijuana while the legal bad guys are laughing — and thumbing their noses — all the way to the bank.


Anonymous said...

Aurai...Watanabe did something right! A win for the people of Hawaii and beach lovers!

Anonymous said...

The State and County government types are all so convinced that they are right about everything that they just ignore court orders now?

Sounds like our pros on the MJ stuff.

Remember, don't let truth or law get in the way of your opinions.

Anonymous said...

The 'court' could have been more specific, like instructing the State on HOW she intents that they determine the location of the shoreline. I read that stuff, she did not change the definition in HRS.

Anonymous said...

oh cool, a geologist judge. guess the supreme court will lay down the final act in this play.

Anonymous said...

The 'court' could have been more specific, like instructing the State on HOW she intents that they determine the location of the shoreline.

If you vacate a shoreline and say the way it was determined was arbitrary and capricious, even DLNR shouldn't have to be told not to come back with the same thing that was just thrown out!

Anonymous said...

If you vacate a shoreline and say the way it was determined was arbitrary and capricious, even DLNR shouldn't have to be told not to come back with the same thing that was just thrown out!

They can come back with the same shoreline as long as they didn't use the same method.

Anonymous said...

the geologist judge did not instruct nor reflect on what methodology to follow - just this is no good, try again, I'm not going to give you instructions on HOW to do it, just do - and I'll tell you are wrong later.

Again - she did not change the definition in the law - so what did she instruct them (the State) to do? Repeat the same exercise.

Anonymous said...

let the Supreme Court decide - I'll bet they don't think they are geologists...

Anonymous said...

$14.6 billion in revenue for antipsychotics? Health care fraud cases up the bunghoolio? I guess we do need to strengthen those drug laws.